Christoph W. Leemann Named Jefferson Lab Director

The Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) has selected internationally recognized particle-accelerator physicist Christoph W. Leemann as director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab).

Leemann has been serving for the past year as interim director of the Newport News, Virginia nuclear physics laboratory, a world center for the study of the atom's nucleus. He served previously as Jefferson Lab's deputy director as well as its associate director for accelerators and a leader of the management team responsible for the successful design and construction of the $600 million high-tech DOE facility. Leemann came to Jefferson Lab in 1985 from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he had been involved in the design and construction of high-energy accelerators since 1970.

"As the new Jefferson Lab director Christoph Leemann will help maintain the tradition of excellence that characterizes the Department of Energy's science programs," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "The lab's work in turn will help the nation remain a leader in science and technology."

"I am pleased to be asked to serve the nation as Jefferson Lab's director," Leemann said, "and am honored that SURA and the Department of Energy are confident of my ability to steward one of the jewels of American science. I will work to continue the Lab's excellent research output. I look forward to strengthening the team of scientists at Jefferson Lab and to working closely with the user community to invigorate the scientific research efforts of this Lab. I consider one of my primary tasks to guide an upgrade of the Jefferson Lab accelerator, an upgrade that will open new physics frontiers to the scientific community."

"Jefferson Lab is a national treasure," said President Jerry Draayer of SURA, the management and operating contractor of the Lab since its inception for the Department of Energy. "We are pleased to have Christoph Leemann at the helm. He will guide the Lab in support of a flourishing scientific program. Under his leadership, the Lab is expected to deliver an enhanced accelerator with double the current energy that will enable researchers to probe even deeper into nature's secrets. Christoph has a proven record of success at Jefferson Lab including, most recently, its partnering with other national laboratories on the construction of the DOE's Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Christoph's expertise and experience position him uniquely to help forge an exciting and dynamic future for Jefferson Lab."

Leemann, a native of Basel, Switzerland, holds a Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Basel. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society. Leemann, who is an American citizen, holds a Governor's Distinguished Professorship at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

"The University of Virginia is very pleased that one of its distinguished faculty members will be guiding the future of the Jefferson Lab," said U.Va. President John Casteen. "Christoph Leemann will continue to strengthen the Lab's connection with the SURA universities, including U.Va. Our university played a lead role in bringing the Lab to Virginia and will continue to reap the benefits of having a world-class facility within its reach. U.Va. is particularly excited about the Lab's spin-off Free Electron Laser facility, which will enable cutting-edge research in the biological as well as physical sciences."

SURA was initially formed to build and manage the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF), now Jefferson Lab. The non-profit 59-member university consortium, whose footprint stretches across the southern region from Delaware to Texas, serves as an entity through which its members, in cooperation with other organizations and government, are committed to strengthening the scientific, research, and technological capacity of the SURA region and nation.

Jefferson Lab carries out research that cannot be done anywhere else in the world. Some 1,800 physicists worldwide form the Jefferson Lab Users Group, a group of researchers seeking comprehensive understanding of the atom's nucleus and how quarks and gluons, building blocks of protons and neutrons, make up the nucleus. The Lab is also a national resource in accelerator science and technology, and a source of transferable technologies that will contribute to national security and economic strength.

For more information about the Department of Energy, see For more information about SURA, see For more information about Jefferson Lab, see

SURA Contact:
    Elizabeth Lawson, 202-408-7872
Jefferson Lab Contact:
    Linda Ware, 757-269-7689


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, a joint venture of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. and PAE, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit